March 20, 2012
By Peter Hart
Jeremy Scahill’s piece at the Nation website (“Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?,”3/13/12) about imprisoned Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye is riveting and deeply reported. But to Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum, the story doesn’t quite add up…because Barack Obama seems like a decent guy.
As Scahill reports, Shaye has “risked his life to travel to areas controlled by Al-Qaeda and to interview its leaders.” He argues that this reporting has not exactly won him friends in the U.S. or Yemeni governments:
His collision course with the U.S. government appears to have been set in December 2009. On December 17, the Yemeni government announced that it had conducted a series of strikes against an Al-Qaeda training camp in the village of al Majala in Yemen’s southern Abyan province, killing a number of Al-Qaeda militants. As the story spread across the world, Shaye traveled to al Majala. What he discovered were the remnants of Tomahawk cruise missiles and cluster bombs, neither of which are in the Yemeni military’s arsenal. He photographed the missile parts, some of them bearing the label “Made in the USA,” and distributed the photos to international media outlets. He revealed that among the victims of the strike were women, children and the elderly. To be exact, 14 women and 21 children were killed.
Shaye was subsequently arrested and likely tortured by Yemeni authorities, who charged and convicted him on terrorism charges. The case has drawn international attention, with media and human rights groups denouncing the trial. Pressure inside Yemen seemed to be working, and a pardon was ready for then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh to sign.
Enter Barack Obama, who “expressed concern” over Shaye’s release. The pardon was shelved; as Scahill reports:
Yemeni journalists, human rights activists and lawyers have said he remains in jail at the request of the White House.
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald weighed in (3/14/12), reminding readers that the initial media accounts of the attacks in Majala were wildly misleading–the strikes were carried out by Yemen, those killed were “militants,” and so on. As Greenwald puts it, the world knows the truth about this attack–which was a U.S. strike using cruise missiles and cluster bombs–because of Shaye’s reporting.
Seems pretty straightforward. But not to everyone. Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum wrote a response headlined, “Is Barack Obama a Murderous Sociopath?” The crux of Drum’s argument is that Shaye’s reporting isn’t all that important. “I wonder what’s really going on,” writes Drum. “Because here’s the thing: the attack on al Majala was no secret.”
Drum points out that “within a few hours of the strike it was common knowledge that U.S. cruise missiles had done most of the damage and that there were local reports of many civilian casualties.” He adds that
everything that Shaye reported in 2010 had long since been common knowledge. Obama has suffered, as near as I can tell, literally zero embarrassment from this episode. The al Majala attack got a small bit of media attention when it happened and has been completely forgotten since.
America’s quality of life is plummeting. KT is here is tell you about the crumbling American infrastructure and how you can personally weather the storm. Plus, get insider information on the U.S. government’s shady back room dealings.
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September 1st, 2011
The Associated Press
By: Richard Lardner
The U.S. has lost billions of dollars to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan and stands to repeat that in future wars without big changes in how the government awards and manages contracts for battlefield support and reconstruction projects, independent investigators said Wednesday.
The Wartime Contracting Commission urged Congress and the Obama administration to quickly put in place its recommendations to overhaul the contracting process and increase accountability. The commission even suggested that the joint House-Senate debt reduction committee take a close look at the proposals.
“What you’re asking for is more of the same,” said Dov Zakheim, a commission member and the Pentagon comptroller during President George W. Bush’s first term. “More waste. More fraud. More abuse.”
The bipartisan commission, created by Congress in 2008, estimated that at least $31 billion and as much as $60 billion has been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning, inadequate competition and corruption. “I personally believe that the number is much, much closer to $60 billion,” Zakheim said.
Yet new legislation incorporating the changes could prove difficult with Republicans and Democrats divided over the best way to reduce the deficit.
Several of the proposals would require new spending, the commission acknowledged, and that would be a hard sell in an election year when reducing the size of government is a priority for many. Other proposals would cost little or simply require money to be shifted from one account to another, the panel said.
“If these recommendations are not implemented, there ought to be a Hall of Shame,” said Michael Thibault, co-chairman of the commission. “There’s an opportunity at hand.”
The commission’s 15 recommendations include creating an inspector general to monitor war zone contracting and operations, appointing a senior government official to improve planning and coordination among federal agencies, reducing the use of private security companies, and carefully monitoring contractor performance.
Massachusetts Rep. John Tierney, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform national security subcommittee, said Wednesday that the commission’s findings are “alarming.” Tierney said he plans to introduce legislation next week to create the inspector general’s post.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the Senate’s contracting oversight subcommittee, said she plans to prepare legislation based upon the commission’s recommendations.
The commission’s report said contracting waste in Afghanistan and Iraq could grow as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes. That would leave the countries to bear the long-term costs of sustaining the schools, medical clinics, barracks, roads and power plants already built with American money.
Overall, the commission said spending on contracts and grants to support U.S. operations is expected to exceed $206 billion by the end of the 2011 budget year. Based on its investigation, the commission said contracting waste in Afghanistan ranged from 10 percent to 20 percent of the $206 billion total. Fraud during the same period ran between 5 percent and 9 percent of the total, the report said. Fraud includes bribery, kickbacks, bid rigging and defective products, according to the commission.
“It is disgusting to think that nearly a third of the billions and billions we spent on contracting was wasted or used for fraud,” McCaskill said.
Styled after the Truman Committee, which examined World War II spending six decades ago, the commission had broad authority to examine military support contracts, reconstruction projects and private security companies. But the law creating the commission set this September as the end of its work, even as contractors continue their heavy support of U.S. operations in the war zones.
Security, transportation, food preparation and delivery, and much more are now handled by the private sector. At the same time, the officials responsible for monitoring contractor performance have been overwhelmed by increasing reliance on private companies.
“We are far more reliant on contractors than we ever were,” said commission member Charles Tiefer, a professor of government contracting at the University of Baltimore Law School. “We always bought munitions from them. But we didn’t used to buy much in the way of services from them.”
The commission cited numerous examples of waste, including a $360 million U.S.-financed agricultural development program in Afghanistan. The effort began as a $60 million project in 2009 to distribute vouchers for wheat seed and fertilizer in drought-stricken areas of northern Afghanistan. The program expanded into the south and east. Soon the U.S. was spending a $1 million a day on the program, creating an environment ripe for waste and abuse, the commission said.
“Paying villagers for what they used to do voluntarily destroyed local initiatives and diverted project goods into Pakistan for resale,” the commission said.
The Afghan insurgency’s second largest funding source after the illegal drug trade is the diversion of money from U.S.-backed construction projects and transportation contracts, according to the commission. But the report does not say how much money has been funneled to the insurgency. The money typically is lost when insurgents and warlords threaten Afghan subcontractors with violence unless they pay for protection, according to the report.
The Associated Press reported this month that U.S. military authorities in Kabul believe $360 million has ended up in the hands of the Taliban, criminals and power brokers with ties to both.
The military said only a small percentage of the $360 million has been garnered by the Taliban and insurgent groups. Most of the money was lost to profiteering, bribery and extortion by criminals and power brokers.
September 1st, 2011
By: Mike Adams
U.S. government medical researchers, including those from the National Institute of Health (NIH), engaged in heinous crimes through secret medical experiments on Guatemalan medical experiments, concluded an investigative report commissioned by President Obama. The report concluded that:
• The U.S. government knowingly funded and deliberately engaged in criminal medical experiments against Guatemalan prisoners.
• At least 5,500 people were drafted into the experiments, including children, women and the mentally ill. The number deliberately infected with sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) exceeded 1,300 (that we know of).
• U.S. doctors and medical researchers knowingly and deliberately violated all the fundamental medical ethics including “do no harm.”
• The victims of this criminal, government-run pharmaceutical experiment were mentally ill prisoners who were deliberate infected with STDs just to see what would happen.
• The victims were “not treated like human beings” but rather like laboratory animals and were deprived of basic human dignity in these heinous medical crimes.
• The purpose of the medical experiment was to test the effectiveness of penicillin for the pharmaceutical companies so they could sell the drug at high profit while claiming it had been “scientifically and clinically tested” to prevent the contraction of STDs.
• Victims were not even informed they were being infected with STDs. The entire experiment was a clandestine operation involving an admitted conspiracy between Big Pharma and the U.S. government. Undeniable evidence has now emerged that the doctors and medical researchers involved in the experiment actively took steps to hide what they were doing. (Because they knew they were engaged in EVIL actions.)
(Gee, I guess conspiracies really do exist, huh? All those people who dismiss “conspiracy theorists” have obviously never read actual U.S. history and have no knowledge of the way the pharmaceutical industry really works…)
• One purpose of these experiments was to “…find a reliable way of infecting subjects for future studies,” reports the Washington Post. “Doctors also poured bacteria onto wounds they had opened with needles on prisoners’ penises, faces and arms. In some cases, infectious material was injected into their spines.”
• Today, of course, the medical industry has long since found the perfect way to infect subjects for experimental studies — Vaccines! Seriously: If these doctors, NIH researchers and government authorities would inject mentally ill prisoners with infectious diseases (directly into their spines), do you honestly think they wouldn’t load up today’s vaccines with live viruses and unleash mass vaccination campaigns to cause cancer, pandemics and other diseases that generate Big Pharma profits? (Grow up, folks. The medical industry is based on fundamental evils and criminal madness. The sooner you get that through your heads, the sooner you’ll understand why there are no pharmaceutical cures for any disease — they WANT you to be sick!)
“They should shock the conscience not in spite of their medical context, but precisely because of it,” said commission chairwoman Amy Gutmann, who also serves as president of the University of Pennsylvania. “The people who were in the know, did want to keep it secret because if it would become more widely known, it would become the subject of public criticism,” she said.
• Guatemala condemned the medical experiments as “crimes against humanity” and vowed to prosecute the United States government for its role in international courts.
• The Institute of Medicine was asked by President Obama to take part in the investigation of the criminal medical experiments on Guatemalans but had to recuse itself because of past ties with the research.
Details about Dr. John Cutler, the M.D. who carried out these medical crimes on behalf of the U.S. government and the NIH
• These crimes in Guatemala were carried out by a conventional medical doctor named Dr. John Cutler who was funded by a grant from the NIH.
• Dr. Cutler acted with complete alignment alongside the pharmaceutical industry’s total disregard for human life. When one of the mentally ill victims who was infected with STDs began to show signs that she might die, Dr. Cutler proceeded to infect her with yet more syphilis and did nothing while she suffered and then died. This is how the pharmaceutical industry routinely operates in conspiracy with the NIH and government entities (see below).
• These medical experiments were not merely conducted in “foreign countries,” by the way. After successfully sacrificing Guatemalans on the altar of pharmaceutical profits, Dr. John Cutler was granted permission to take part in the infamous Tuskegee experiments that targeted African Americans. That experiment went on for four decades until it was finally ended in 1972. Yes — FOUR decades of government-run medical experiments on black Americans.
• After the Tuskegee experiments, Dr. John Cutler continued to run medical experiments on Americans in Terre Haute, Indiana, where prison inmates were deliberately infected with STDs.
• Dr. Cutler died in 2003 and probably went to Hell. He never apologized for his research, insisting that he was acting in an ethical manner as a doctor. (Seriously. This is yet another great example of how doctors suffer from egomaniacal self delusion that allows them to justify vaccines, chemotherapy and other deadly procedures that kill millions of innocent people every year.)
August 22nd, 2011
AOL Real Estate
By: Neal Barnard, M.D.
Are hot dogs a political issue? Surprisingly so.
On Monday July 25, my non-profit organization, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, erected a billboard outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The picture was stark — a cigarette pack emblazoned with a skull and crossbones. But sticking out of the pack were not cigarettes — instead there were hot dogs. The message said “WARNING: Hot dogs can wreck your health.”
The issue is cancer. Every year, about 143,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 die of the disease. About half of all cases are already incurable when found. The U.S. Government and other entities have poured millions of dollars into the search for the cause. But one of the causes they found turned out to be too hot for the government to handle.
It’s the ordinary hot dog. At least 58 scientific studies have looked at the issue, and the jury has rendered its verdict, which is now beyond reasonable doubt. The more hot dogs people eat, the higher their risk of colorectal cancer. And it’s not just hot dogs. Any sort of processed meat — bacon, sausage, ham, deli slices — is in this group. And here are the numbers: Every 50 grams of processed meat you eat on a daily basis (that’s about one hot dog) increases your risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. And just as there is no safe level of smoking, no amount of hot dogs, bacon, sausage, ham or other processed meats comes out clean in scientific studies.
The problem goes beyond colorectal cancer. An NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study found a 10 percent increased risk of prostate cancer for every 10 grams of increased intake of processed meats. Other studies have linked these same products to leukemia and ovarian cancer. Exactly how processed meats do their dirty work is not clear; it could be their nitrites, saturated fat or other ingredients.
But here’s where politics come in: Even though much of this research was paid for by the U.S. government, the government also subsidizes meat. It supports feed grains to fatten cows and pigs, buys up meats for the school lunch program and helps the meat industry in countless other ways. So I think that the last thing the government wants to do is to publicize the cancer risk of one of its favorite products. I believe that this is why there are no government billboards, radio ads or television spots to warn anyone about this easily preventable cause.
At a ballgame, if you’re thinking about buying your daughter a hot dog, there are no notices, no warning labels on the food product, no nothing. Meat industry lobbyists have made sure that your government won’t breathe a word.
The fact is, hot dogs are not fun, cute or “All-American.” If you are not convinced, just ask to see how one is made.
When good research finds a potentially fatal risk to Americans — one as close as our refrigerators and as dear to us as our children — the government needs to let Americans know.
And when it does not, we will.
August 11th, 2011
The Economic Collapse
How far does the stock market have to go down before we officially call it a crash? The Dow is now down more than 2,000 points in just the last 14 trading days. So can we now call this “The Stock Market Crash of 2011″? Today the Dow was down 519 points. Yesterday, an announcement by the Federal Reserve indicating that the Fed would keep interest rates near zero until mid-2013 helped the Dow surge more than 400 points, but all of those gains were wiped out today. It turns out that the Federal Reserve was only able to stabilize the financial markets for a single day. Fears about the European sovereign debt crisis and the crumbling U.S. economy continue to dominate the marketplace. With each passing day, things are looking more and more like 2008 all over again. So what is going to happen if “The Stock Market Crash of 2011″ pushes the U.S. economy into “The Recession of 2012″?
Just like in 2008, bank stocks are being hit the hardest. That was true once again today. Bank of America was down more than 10 percent, Citigroup was down more than 10 percent, Morgan Stanley was down more than 9 percent and JPMorgan Chase was down more than 5 percent.
Bank of America stock is down almost 50 percent so far this year. Overall, the S&P financial sector is down more than 23 percent in 2011 so far.
How soon will it be before we start hearing of the need for more bailouts? After all, the “too big to fail” banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.
All of this panic is causing the price of gold to reach unprecedented heights. Today, gold was over $1800 at one point. If the current panic continues for an extended period of time, there is no telling how high the price of gold may go.
In the United States, much of the focus has been on the fact that the U.S. government has lost its AAA credit rating, but the truth is that the European sovereign debt crisis is probably the biggest cause of the instability in world financial markets right now.
The European Central Bank has decided to start purchasing Italian and Spanish debt, and there have been rumors that French debt could be hit with a downgrade. Europe is a total financial basket case right now and unless dramatic action is taken things are going to get progressively worse.
Of course the U.S. is also certainly contributing greatly to this crisis. The federal government is on track to have a budget deficit that is over a trillion dollars for the third year in a row. The U.S national debt is a horrific nightmare, but our politicians keep putting off budget cuts.
The debt ceiling deal that was just reached basically does next to nothing to cut the budget before the next election. Unless the “Super Congress” does something dramatic, the only “budget cuts” we will see before the 2012 election will be 25 billion dollars in “savings” from spending increases that will be cancelled.
The modest spending cuts scheduled to go into effect beginning in 2013 will probably never materialize. Whenever the time comes to actually significantly cut the budget, our politicians always want to put it off for another time.
But in the end, debt is always going to have its day. Our politicians can try to kick the can down the road all they want, but eventually a day of reckoning is going to come.
In fact, if the U.S. and Europe had not piled up so much debt, we would not be facing all of the problems we are dealing with now.
Things could have been so much different.
But here we are.
The truth is that this debt crisis is just beginning. There is no magic potion that is going to make all of this debt suddenly disappear.
Most Americans have no idea how much financial pain is coming. We have been living way beyond our means for decades, and now we are going to start paying for it.
Now that long-term U.S. government debt has been downgraded, huge numbers of other securities are also going to be affected. In fact, according to a recent Bloomberg article, S&P has already been very busy slashing the ratings on hordes of municipal bonds….
August 5th, 2011
Fears about the global economy led to the biggest panic in financial markets since the 2008 financial crisis. The Dow plunged nearly 513 points Thursday, its biggest point decline since Oct. 22, 2008. Only three of the 500 stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index had gains. Oil fell by 6 percent. The yield on the two-year Treasury note hit a record low as investors sought out relatively stable investments.
All three major stock indexes are down 10 percent or more from their previous highs, a drop-off that is considered to be a market correction. A drop of 20 percent or more signifies the start of a bear market, an extended period of stock declines.
Investors are increasingly concerned about the possibility of another recession in the U.S. and a debt crisis in Europe.
“We are continuing to be bombarded by worries about the global economy,” said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Financial.
The Vix, a measure of investor fear, shot up 36 percent. It is up 92.6 percent for the quarter, which began July 1.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 512.61 points, or 4.3 percent, to 11,11,383.61. Thursday’s losses turned the blue-chip stock index negative for the year.
The S&P 500 – the benchmark for most mutual funds – lost 60.20, or 4.8 percent, to 1,200.14. It is now down 12 percent from its recent high of 1,363 reached on April 29. The Nasdaq composite shed 136.68, or 5.1 percent, to 2,556.39.
Oil dipped to $87 a barrel on worries demand will fall because of the slowing economy. It had traded over $100 as recently as June 9.
Nearly 20 stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
European stocks also fell broadly because of concerns that Italy or Spain may need help from the European Union. The benchmark stock indexes in Italy, Germany and England each fell 3 percent.
Stock trading has been volatile this week because of concerns that the U.S. economy is weakening. Manufacturing, consumer spending and hiring by private companies are below levels that are consistent with a healthy economy. Those reports have called into question estimates from economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, that the economy will grow more quickly in the second half of the year.
Money poured into investments that are seen as relatively safe when markets are turbulent. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.42 percent, its lowest level of the year. The yield on the 2-year Treasury note hit a record low of 0.26 percent. Bond yields fall when demand for them increases.
Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist for Janney Montgomery Scott, an investment firm in Philadelphia, said some clients are moving to cash “as a parking lot to sort things out.”
“With the scars of 2008 still fresh, some clients don’t want to miss the chance to pre-empt further damage should it come,” Luschini said.
Large investors have moved so much money into cash accounts at Bank of New York that on Thursday the bank said it would begin charging some clients a 0.13 percent fee to hold their cash.
“In the past month, we have seen a growing level of deposits on our balance sheet from clients seeking a safe-haven in light of the global interest rate and credit environment,” the bank said in a statement to The Associated Press. Bank of New York clients include pension funds and large investment houses.
“Investors are deciding that now is the time to take risk off the table,” said Brian Gendreau, market strategist for Cetera Financial Group. Gendreau said that some investors are now wondering whether stocks will have a prolonged slump similar to the aftermath of the Great Depression.
Technical trading, a term used to signify buying or selling based on the S&P 500′s prior highs and lows, also helped push stocks downward. The S&P 500 fell below 1,222, a so-called support level, early in the day. That signified to some traders that the stock market would continue to slide.
“Traders are respecting the technical levels even if they’re not technicians,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. “Even if you’re what we call a conviction buyer, you have to respect those levels.”
Companies that outperform when the global economy expands fell the most. Alcoa fell the most, with a 9 percent drop. Bank of America and Caterpillar were down 7 percent. Boeing ended down 6 percent.
Some traders are selling ahead of Friday’s employment report, which is expected to show that unemployment remained at 9.2 percent last month. A rise in the unemployment number would likely push stocks lower again.
The U.S. government said before the market opened that the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits for the first time was only slightly lower last week to 400,000. That’s still above the 375,000 level that economist say indicates a healthy job market. It was the latest indication of weakness in the U.S. economy.
All 10 industry groups in the S&P index fell. Energy, materials and industrial companies each lost 5 percent or more.
The sell-off comes at a time when corporate profits are growing. The forward price to earnings ratio of the S&P 500 has fallen to about 12, well below its long-term average of 16. That means that investors who buy now are paying less for each dollar in profits.
Based on what an investor now pays for corporate profits, stocks are now trading at their lowest levels in 20 years, said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer of Burns Advisory Group in Oklahoma City.
Few companies were spared in the sell-off. Just 3 of the 500 stocks in the S&P 500 moved higher. General Motors Co. fell 4 percent despite beating analyst’s earnings estimates.
The stock market as a whole had its biggest fall since the start of the current bull market in March 2009. The drop in the S&P was the largest since a 45-point decline on January 20, 2009. The Dow is down 1.7 percent for the year. The S&P 500 is down 4.6 percent. And the Nasdaq is down 3.6 percent. The Russell 2000, an index made up of small companies, has fared the worst. It was down 5.6 percent Thursday and is down 7.3 percent for the year.
Seven Startling Things Most People Still Don’t Know About The National Debt, Banking And The Money Supply
August 2nd, 2011
By: Mike Adams
Most people, even smart people, know surprisingly little about the way money really works in Big Government. With the debt ceiling fiasco suddenly raising awareness of the possibility of a total global financial blowout, now seems like a good time to remind people of seven disturbing facts about money that are almost never acknowledge in the old media.
Fact #1 – There is no FDIC insurance fund.
The money at your bank is insured against loss by the FDIC’s insurance fund, right? Nope. That’s total fiction. There is no actual money in the fund. The FDIC insurance money has already been looted by the U.S. Treasury which has simply replaced the money with a bunch of IOUs.
Why does this matter? Because it means that if the U.S. government goes into default, so will the FDIC! And that means all your bank funds have zero insurance. That’s gonna be a big shock for tens of millions of people when they finally figure this out one day…
Fact #2 – There are no social security funds, either.
When you pay social security taxes, all that money goes into a trust fund that’s held for safekeeping until the day it pays you back, right?
Ha! That’s the “sucker’s view” of social security that only ignorant people believe. In reality, there is no money in the social security trust fund because it too has all been looted by the U.S. Treasury and spent. In truth, social security is already broke. Can’t wait for people to wake up and figure this one out, either…
Fact #3 – The U.S. Treasury is stealing money from you every day, even if you pay no taxes!
Here’s a mind-boggling truth that most people just can’t seem to get their heads around: The U.S. Treasury is stealing money from you every single day by the simple fact that they keep creating new money and handing it out to wealthy banksters. Well, technically this is being done by the Federal Reserve, which isn’t even part of the federal government. But it’s all done in cahoots with the Treasury, which is eroding the value of your money through these money creation and distribution actions.
That’s why prices keep going up all around you, folks: Food isn’t suddenly worth more money; the truth is that your money is worth less! That’s how the Treasury and the Federal Reserve steal from you without even breaking into your home.
Probably 99.9% of the population has no understanding of this phenomenon — the erosion of currency valuation through the centralized government printing of more currency. And yet it is a government scam that has been carried out against citizens of the world time and time again, spanning millennia! As history has clearly shown, every nation that goes down the path of printing more currency to pay its bills eventually ends up in a runaway hyperinflation scenario followed by economic collapse. The USA will be no different.
Fact #4 – The “balanced solution” isn’t balanced.
Don’t you love the quirky White House Press Secretary who keeps spewing out the phrase “balanced solution” even while the debt deal leaves the U.S. budget entirely unbalanced?
When you’re spending more money than you’re earning, that’s not financial balance. When the White House says “balanced” what it really means is “compromised” — as in, half way between the Republican position (spend us into purgatory) and the Democratic position (spend us into oblivion). Neither party has any real solution to the cancerous growth of Big Government. That’s because they are creatures of Big Government!
Politicians can no more solve the problems of Big Government than arsonists can solve the problem of office fires. Because they are, themselves, creatures of runaway debt spending (how else do you get elected these days?), they simply do not possess the cognitive framework from which real financial solutions must stem.
Fact #5 – The government is going to steal everything from you before it collapses
Oh my, this is a tough one for people to get their heads around… especially those who naively trust governments to act in the interests of the People. The simple truth of the matter — and I’ve publicly made this prediction before — is that the government is going to STEAL almost everything you own as it heads toward a total financial implosion. This will include:
• The government theft of private retirement accounts. The feds will claim they’re taking them over “for your protection.” Yeah, right. And then one day they will simply all vanish. Kiss your IRA goodbye…
• The government theft of precious metals. Within the next 3 years, watch for a national emergency to be declared, followed by government confiscation of gold and silver. The feds will take your gold and hand you paper money in exchange. The paper money, of course, will be all but worthless shortly thereafter. Only the suckers, of course, will actually turn in their metals…
• Government takeover of your bank accounts. As banks begin to fail in the big collapse, the government will step in and take ownership of the failed institutions, just as it did with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (which used to be publicly-owned companies but are now largely just government finance operations). This will put your bank accounts under the direct control of the White House, which can use executive orders to do things like banning all wire transfers out of the country or limiting daily withdrawals and transfers. Sure, you’ll still “own” your money in the bank, you just won’t be able to freely access it!
Fact #6 – Most people have no idea about fractional reserve banking, derivatives, the money supply or the Federal Reserve
It’s not just that most people don’t understand banking and finance; it’s that even members of Congress have no idea how all this works. With few exceptions (like Ron Paul), they’re just clueless!
Get this: Even most bankers don’t even know how fractional reserve banking really works. They don’t understand derivatives, either, which is why they screwed them up so badly in the housing boom that crashed in 2007. And because bankers, investors and bureaucrats have no idea how it all works, they unwittingly turn it all into a runaway catastrophe.
Allowing ignorant adults to play with debt and derivatives is like letting infants play with nuclear weapons. It can only lead to something messy.
Fact #7 – Most people are betting their lives on the dollar
People buy insurance for their cars, their homes and even their health. But when it comes to money, 99 out of 100 people in America are betting their entire financial existence on the U.S. dollar! They get their paychecks in dollars, their savings accounts are in dollars, and all their assets are denominated in dollars. As a result, they have no diversity to protect them against dollar devaluation.
That’s kinda crazy, considering just how quickly the dollar could collapse in the near future and become totally worthless. That’s why smart people are diversifying their assets and converting dollars into land, gold, silver or even storable food. Here in central Texas, even ammunition has a long-term barter value that far exceeds dollars.
Looking around at the financial behaviors of others, I’m just stunned at how many people are betting everything on the dollar because they never realized they had any other option (that’s the way the government likes to keep it, of course!).
June 21st, 2011
The Raw Story
The US government on Tuesday unveiled a new set of cigarette warnings with graphic images of a lifeless body, a scarred mouth and a blackened lung in order to highlight the health risks of smoking.
“Beginning September 2012, FDA will require larger, more prominent cigarette health warnings on all cigarette packaging and advertisements in the United States,” the US Food and Drug Administration said on its website.
The warnings, which can be seen at fda.gov/cigarettewarnings, mark the first change in cigarette warnings in more than 25 years and are “a significant advancement in communicating the dangers of smoking,” the agency added.
One of the images, which shows an apparently dead man with his chest sewn up, bears the caption “Warning: Smoking can kill you.” According to the FDA, smoking kills 1,200 people a day in the United States alone.
Another picture shows a close-up on a mouth filled with scattered, brown teeth and a lip with an open sore, warning: “Cigarettes cause cancer.”
Smoking causes 90 percent of all lung cancer in men and 80 percent in women, and has been linked to several other cancers, according to the FDA.
The new warnings also seek to warn pregnant women and new parents of the dangers of smoking, with a drawn image showing a premature baby in a hospital incubator and a picture showing a real baby staring at a plume of smoke.
The warnings will occupy the top 50 percent of the front and rear panels of cigarette packs and the top 20 percent of cigarette advertisements.
“The introduction of these warnings is expected to have a significant public health impact by decreasing the number of smokers, resulting in lives saved, increased life expectancy, and lower medical costs,” the website said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is to formally announce the new warnings later on Tuesday.
June 10th, 2011
A Chinese ratings house has accused the United States of defaulting on its massive debt, state media said Friday, a day after Beijing urged Washington to put its fiscal house in order.
“In our opinion, the United States has already been defaulting,” Guan Jianzhong, president of Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. Ltd., the only Chinese agency that gives sovereign ratings, was quoted by the Global Times saying.
Washington had already defaulted on its loans by allowing the dollar to weaken against other currencies — eroding the wealth of creditors including China, Guan said.
Guan did not immediately respond to AFP requests for comment.
The US government will run out of room to spend more on August 2 unless Congress bumps up the borrowing limit beyond $14.29 trillion — but Republicans are refusing to support such a move until a deficit cutting deal is reached.
Ratings agency Fitch on Wednesday joined Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s to warn the United States could lose its first-class credit rating if it fails to raise its debt ceiling to avoid defaulting on loans.
A downgrade could sharply raise US borrowing costs, worsening the country’s already dire fiscal position, and send shock waves through the financial world, which has long considered US debt a benchmark among safe-haven investments.
China is by far the top holder of US debt and has in the past raised worries that the massive US stimulus effort launched to revive the economy would lead to mushrooming debt that erodes the value of the dollar and its Treasury holdings.
Beijing cut its holdings of US Treasury securities for the fifth month in a row to $1.145 trillion in March, down $9.2 billion from February and 2.6 percent less than October’s peak of $1.175 trillion, US data showed last month.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Thursday urged the United States to adopt “effective measures to improve its fiscal situation”.
Dagong has made a name for itself by hitting out at its three Western rivals, saying they caused the financial crisis by failing to properly disclose risk.
The Chinese agency, which is trying to build an international profile, has given the United States and several other nations lower marks than they received from the the big three.